Twins baseball chief Derek Falvey spoke with the media during Wednesday's loss to the Yankees and said he can "obviously see opportunities to add" to the team's struggling bullpen.
The MLB trade deadline strikes at 3 p.m. Central Time on Wednesday, July 31. That leaves Falvey and the Twins six days to improve a bullpen – and possibly add a starting pitcher – that is largely to blame for Minnesota's lead shrinking to 2 games over the Indians in the AL Central race.
Will the Twins actually make a move or two for high-end arms?
"I think, by and large, most of the production is going to come from the team that is already here," Falvey said. "We all expect the deadline to be when you make or break your team. I don't subscribe to that idea, because a lot of it comes from what we have."
Minnesota's bullpen was good Wednesday night thanks to Devin Smeltzer's five really good innings after starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi got knocked around for 9 runs in the 10-7 loss, but the 'pen surrendered 9 runs in 5 innings the night before.
Overall, the bullpen's 4.46 ERA ranks 15th in the majors and 8th in the AL. Cleveland's 3.30 bullpen ERA is the best in baseball, which undoubtedly puts pressure on the Twins to seriously consider moving prospects for pitching help.
Falvey did say that none of Minnesota's top prospects, including shortstop Royce Lewis, outfielder Alex Kirilloff and pitcher Brusdar Graterol, are off limits if the right trade offer comes around.
He also said that while the Twins prefer trading for players with long-term contracts, they will still consider beefing up the bullpen with a rental player whose contract expires after the season.
Minnesota has just one regular reliever with an ERA under 3, and that's left-hander Taylor Rogers (2.27 ERA), who's cracked of late by blowing save opportunities in two of his last three appearances.
The rest of the bullpen regulars is a mess:
- Ryne Harper - 3.07 ERA
- Mike Morin - 3.18 ERA
- Tyler Duffey - 3.82 ERA
- Trevor May - 4.10 ERA
- Blake Parker - 4.21 ERA
- Matt Magill - 4.45 ERA
- Zack Littell - 4.91 ERA
The names in italics, Morin, Magill and Parker, are no longer with the That's because Morin was traded to the Phillies after being waived, Magill was sent to the Mariners for cash and Parker was just designated for assignment Wednesday.
"There have been times where it hasn't gone as well, no question," Falvey said. "But most games, we've been in a good spot."
That was probably true when the Twins won 40 of 58 games to start the season, but a 21-22 record since is largely due to a bullpen in shambles, especially since the All-Star break.
And we didn't even mention the failures of Trevor Hildenberger, Fernando Romero and Adalberto Mejia.
Hildenberger has an 8.44 ERA at Triple-A Rochester and is currently on the injured list, Romero gets rocked nearly every time he's called up and Mejia now pitches for the Angels.
Left-hander Lewis Thorpe and right-hander Cody Stashek might be answers in the bullpen, but both have just one relief appearance this season. Thorpe gave up four hits and a run in 2.2 innings against the Yankees on Monday, and Stashek didn't allow a run but gave up four hits in two innings on Tuesday.
Without adding bullpen help via trades, it's clear that any postseason success the Twins have will be on the shoulders of the batting order, which is clearly one of the best in the big leagues – and that might be what matters most in the 2019 juiced ball era.